Page last updated at 16:55 GMT, Tuesday, 15 April 2008 17:55 UK

'Mole man's' 300,000 repair bill

William Lyttle's house
The tunnels were dug over 40 years

A pensioner who created a labyrinth of tunnels under his house over 40 years has been forced to pay 300,000 for repairs carried out by a council.

Excavations by William Lyttle, 77, who is also known as the "mole man", almost caused the property in Mortimer Road, Hackney, east London, to collapse.

Hackney council evicted him in 2006 to allow work to stabilise the house.

The High Court ordered him to pay the amount within 14 days or the property could be sold to pay the bill.

It is understood Mr Lyttle inherited the 20-room four-storey detached property from his parents.

The house, which is dilapidated, could be worth more than 1m if renovated.

Public danger

On Monday the High Court also extended an order which bans Mr Lyttle from going near the property to ensure he does not damage the restoration work.

Since he was evicted he has been living in temporary council accommodation.

In 2001, his digging led to a 15ft-wide hole in the public footpath.

Fiona Fletcher-Smith, of Hackney Council, said: "Mr Lyttle's actions had led to his home becoming a danger to himself and to the general public.

William Lyttle's house
William Lyttle has been banned from going near the house

"Making the property safe is a matter which has incurred considerable expense to the Hackney taxpayer over a number of years, and we are extremely pleased that the court has agreed we should be able to recoup the cost."

Following the order, neighbour Dean Dawson said: "The council has been pussy-footing around him for years.

"They would just check that any work he did had the right planning permission. There has been a distinct lack of action.

"I've got every sympathy with him (Mr Lyttle). He's just a bit eccentric and a bit of a recluse.

"But it does grate on residents when they're told to take down satellite dishes and you just look across the road at all that he's got away with."




SEE ALSO
Man evicted over tunnel network
09 Aug 06 |  London

RELATED INTERNET LINKS
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


FEATURES, VIEWS, ANALYSIS
Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit

BBC navigation

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific